Tuesday, December 30, 2014

gourd forms

This evolved out of  yesterday's kerria stems in straight-sided jars (left), creating a green arrangement in a gift mug (center), and searching for more straight-sided vases to put  kerria stems in. The vases on the right fit the bill, but by the time I got around to using them,  two greenish gourds had made their way into the kitchen and I decided to prop them on top of the vases instead. The gourd forms are interesting--together they look sort of like a shy, mating couple!

Monday, December 29, 2014

so straight, so green

Both this plant material and these bottles came to me as a result of John's and my shed cleaning and refurbishing yesterday. John was painting the side of the shed, so I had to cut down a large kerria bush. John hauled the green stems to the brush pile, but when I visited the brush pile for another reason (to dump something), I found them irresistibly green and straight. So I took some back to the house. The bottles, too, came from the shed, where they were sitting on a shelf full of neglected glass containers. These three sort of appealed to me because of their straight, upright sides, so I washed them and put them in the windowsill where they attracted, like magnets, the green kerria stems, which I shortened and stood upright in them.  All very satisfying.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

okra hoarder

You know you might have a hoarding problem when you can't throw your okra pods away even after you've plied them open and stripped them of their seeds. Here are some ravaged okra pods that probably should have gone in the compost heap yesterday.

And here's my stash of okra seeds. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

renegade colors

Howardsville artist Pam Roland sent me this beautiful card with a poinsettia painting on the front. I loved it not just because the painting is beautiful (and Pam did it) but because it happens to include the colors I've been using all over the house this Christmas-- peach, yellow, red, and green. So pretty! And I think it's the yellows and yellow-greens that excite me most--because they're sort of outside the norm.

P.S. The greens in the little yellow watering can are mahonia, cryptomeria, and leatherwood.

And here's that same card used elsewhere.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Chinese holly berries, honeysuckle berries, pear, etc.

These are the colors I keep playing with this Christmas--red, melon, black, green, yellow. The black berries on the vine in the red vase are honeysuckle berries. And the pear is real!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Barb Sawyer's radishes

Hanover gardener Barb Sawyer sent me this photo of a recent windowsill arrangement of hers. LOVE it! But I'm so jealous of the radishes. Why, oh why, didn't I plant some this fall??

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

berry boats

These cobalt blue berries are so extraordinary, but they're usually overlooked because they nestle deep down in tufts of mondo grass. I was determined to give them some "showtime" so I gathered a bunch of them up a couple of days ago and dropped them into cupped holly leaves. Haven't had quite so much fun since I made leaf boats in mud puddles as a child!! Anyway, here are those berry boats sitting under a vase of blue thistle (sea holly) and cryptomeria foliage.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

yellow nandina foliage in Japanese vase

This beautiful little vessel, and its slate platform, were gifts from a friend who brought the vase back from Japan. And the little sprig of yellow nandina foilage decorated a gift from another friend. The light streaming in the window and the color of the forsythia outside the window were gifts from Mother Nature. How lucky can I be?!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

thistle in melon-colored vase

The florist calls this blue flower thistle. I call it sea holly, and I have it because I created some wedding bouquets last weekend, and this was left over. The vase came from my daughter, Kate, who sells vases at thearrangersmarket.com and was sort of disappointed in the color of this one when it arrived.  Both my photo and the photo in the catalog she ordered it from are inaccurate in their color; the actual color is smokier, but it's a color I love, especially with blue, so it was sort of a miracle that it landed in my kitchen at the same time the thistle/sea holly did.

Friday, December 12, 2014

more leatherwood, with some threaded arborvitae

This is another twig of leatherwood, this time combined with a snippet of some leftover evergreen foliage a friend gave me. The evergreen is some sort of thread-leaved arborvitae--very graceful.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

leatherwood resolution

I'm jumping the gun on New Year's resolutions, but here's one I want to make: I'll look for a source of leatherwood (Cyrilla racemifolia), a native shrub I love and haven't been able to find in nurseries ever since I bought my first one from Burt Shoosmith. Or maybe I'll need to propagate it myself, because I just love this shrub and I've never seen it anywhere other than my own garden and Burt Shoosmith's nursery (which is long gone). It has long white racemes of flowers in the spring and scattered bright red leaves in late fall and early winter. They are just so welcome right about now! Here's a tiny arrangement made with a two leatherwood twigs.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ancient Swiss chard

Gosh, I wish my record-keeping were better. If I took the time, I could probably figure out from my blog how old this chunk of  Swiss chard is. Instead I'll make a guess, which I'm sure is an underestimate: three weeks old since I picked it.  I harvested this thick, almost woody stem of Swiss chard from the vegetable garden because its leaves and stems were so gorgeous. And it has continued to flourish in water -- sort of like a carrot top. Today, two of its leaves were looking ragged, though, so I just tucked them into the coffee mug. The beautiful thing about this is that I could now harvest the healthy leaves to eat if I wanted to.

anemone and pussy willow

This would take forever to explain. Suffice it to say, this one little anemone was leftover from a huge batch of wedding flowers I was working with last weekend. And the pussy willow -- ah, the pussy willow! That came from my garden, because Mary Garner-Mitchell showed me that THIS is the time of year to harvest it. Seems way early, but she's right. If you carefully pinch the buds and pull their bud scales off, what's revealed is a silky, white pussy willow bud. And by picking it this early you avoid what usually happens with more mature buds--they shed pollen all over the place as they continue to mature inside.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

window full of greens

I was packing up for a talk tomorrow and, after removing some things from the windowsill, I rearranged what was left--mostly greens. It's a nice restful display of (left to right):  scented geranium leaves, bloody dock leaves, purple coneflower stalks, tiny pieces of leftover cryptomeria, big stem of camellia foliage, and some rooting aucuba. Funny what accumulates while you're not looking (and when you can't throw even a half-dead thing away)!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

strawberry leaves with hairy bittercress

I was really thrilled to find this perfectly beautiful strawberry leaf in the garden yesterday. And because I wanted to remember that the little spring weed hairy bittercress was also growing in the garden right now (Dec.2!) I tucked a little clump of that into the bottle with the strawberry leaf.

Monday, December 1, 2014

mulberry leaves

This morning I had a "heightened moment" when I found these mulberry leaves between sheets of newspaper, where I'd dried them. They were gorgeous. I put one in this wooden "vase"--it doesn't hold water, but with a dried leaf, that doesn't matter--and one under it. With morning light streaming through the upper leaf, the browns and acid greens were spectacular. Tonight, all that luminosity is lost, but you can sort of see how pretty the colors are.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

old goldenrod

Last night, I came home from a hike in Virginia's Westmoreland State Park with a red oak leaf I was dying to display in the windowsill. It wasn't particularly colorful, but it was BIG and it was dramatic, but when I went to find it tonight, I couldn't find it. Instead, here's a tiny "jug" with a piece of dried goldenrod in it that has been sitting around my kitchen for a couple of weeks. It's still pretty, and I loved it at the time I picked it, but I'm still wishing I could find that red oak leaf!

P.S. Sorry the photo is out of focus. I'm too tired to enlist the help of my tripod.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

well-travelled Swiss chard, plus rain

Love the way you can see the rain out the window in this photo. The hunk of Swiss chard is something I carried from Virginia to Ohio with me to use in a demonstration. I didn't use it, and thought about throwing it away when I got home, but instead I dropped it into this wine glass. A week later, it's still worth looking at!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

too old to sell; too pretty to throw away

I picked these mums almost three weeks ago on the faint hope that they'd last long enough to use in a workshop my daughter Kate is hosting tomorrow night. Well, they almost made it. They're a little to old-looking to take to a workshop, but they were too pretty to throw away, so I harvested the best of them and brought them into the kitchen. There they landed near my clipper holster, which was an unusually rich brown, because I had just washed it. Beautiful with the pale yellow mums! In gathering equipment for the workshop I also knew just where to put my hands on a large plastic tube, which I dropped into my holster with the flowers and some epimedium foliage. The colors are gorgeous together, and, in my kitchen, the mums don't look as aged as they are.

Friday, November 21, 2014

cobalt blue and yellow-green

My sweet daughter remembered how much I loved this blue vase and gave it to me for my birthday today. I knew I'd been saving some yellowing geranium leaves for a reason--to put them in my new blue vase!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

two forms--okra and collards rib

These two materials seemed to want to share a vase tonight--one is an unusually curled okra pod and he other is the midrib of a collard leaf. The latter was left over after I used the rest of the leaf in collards cole slaw.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

too much to explain

If I had time (and ability), I'd write an essay about how all this wound up in the windowsill. The short story (re the most obvious material here) is that I tried to save some tiny marigolds for an upcoming (November 24) workshop but only a few of them persevered until now. I now know none will last until the workshop, but here, on the windowsill, are a few blooms that are still quite pretty. Pretty is obviously "in the eyes of the beholder."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

basil and bloody dock

Winter brought these things indoors--some basil (an upright, small-leaved variety) and some bloody dock (an annual I had growing in pots outdoors). I harvested some bloody dock leaves (they're the larger ones with red veins) from the plants I now have growing inside, where they seem happier than they did all summer, because I'm watering them more regularly. If you look closely, you can see in the vase second from the right that some of the basil has rooted. And in the window, you can see the reflection of what appears to be a mean ghost. I fear that's me!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

tiny bracken fern "frondlet"

I can't right now remember what the sub-parts of a fern frond are called, but this is one of them. It's part of a bracken fern frond and wound up on my dining room table because of my quick packing for a talk in Ohio this weekend. On the dining room table, I assembled all the plant materials I would take, and among them was a cluster of dried bracken fern fronds from which this fell (or broke off).
As I was cleaning the leftover plant debris off the dining room table this morning, this little frondlet seemed too pretty to sweep into the trash can. Here it is, displayed in a really tiny vase a friend gave me, The whole thing--vase and fern frondlet--isn't but about 4 inches tall.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hosta leaf in hotel windowsill

Not much of a windowsill in this Columbus, Ohio, hotel room, but the room is great and so was the color of the ragged hosta leaves in a border in front of the hotel. Some of them were almost transparent, so often had they been frosted. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

purple coneflowers with scented geranium leaf

My goodness these flowers have been stalwart! They've kept blooming through at least two hard frosts and several "soft" ones. I picked them today for a talk I'm giving on
Saturday and because I just thought they deserved to be celebrated!

P.S. The flowers obviously aren't purple. Nor are they as red as they look in the photo. They're a sort of russet color, a variety of Echinacea purpurea that I don't know the name of.

Mary's tarragon

This is some tarragon Mary Garner-Mitchell grew. She gave it to me blooming, on nice long stems, but I had to cut it down to use in this little vase. You can see some of the stems have whacked off ends, because I've harvested some leaves directly from the vase to eat them!

 Here's the same little arrangement with a piece of poet's laurel (and its berry) added. The little poet's laurel sprig came from the much a much longer piece still sitting on the windowsill close by.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

last rose of summer in broken sugar shell

Louise Witherspoon gave me this broken sugar shell this weekend, because, no doubt, she knew I wouldn't be able to resist using it as a vase. Using it turned out to be even harder than I thought it would be, because I had to prop the broken pieces up on the intact lid in order for the shell to hold any water. The easy part was finding the right flower to fill it, because this rose (almost identical to one on the sugar shell) was the very last one blooming in my garden. Crazy coincidence.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Nigella in roll of paper towels

Just to get them out of the way (after drawing them), someone dropped these nigella pods into a roll of paper towels at Flower Camp this weekend. I moved the whole thing over to the windowsill so it could function as my windowsill arrangement.

Here's another photo from the weekend. A red maple leaf-- so beautiful!

Friday, November 7, 2014


I picked this up on a walk yesterday, because it was such a great season marker--"fronds" of mimosa foliage falling to the ground entirely intact. Some of them were so perfectly symmetrical, they looked almost like little flat renditions of evergreen trees. By the time I got home, a few "frondlets" had fallen off, and more have fallen since I've  had this on the windowsill, but the leaf is still pretty.

The vase BYW was a gift from Sandi Shirey, whose mother made it many years ago.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

amazing piece of poet's laurel!

Where is a grandchild who knows how to take panoramic photos when you need one?! I definitely needed one to take this picture, because I couldn't get the whole length of this 4.5 foot poet's laurel branch in the picture frame. I discovered it, laden with orange berries, outside this morning and couldn't resist picking it. Interestingly, it came from my least healthy of  my poet's laurel shrubs. Maybe the shrub put all its energy into this one long branch? Or maybe the whole shrub is dying and this was its last hurrah? Some plants do that--produce lots of seeds or berries when stressed just to make they'll leave offspring.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

weary daylily leaves with coneflower

These materials caught my eye today, so I decided to combine them--a stalwart yellow Echinacea flower and some graceful, declining daylily foliage. I think there's something interesting about the contrast between the graceful, drooping daylily foliage and the rigid, straight Echinacea flower.

green gumballs

Some of these gumballs were bright green when I picked them up off the ground yesterday. They seem to be "browning" by the minute! I think strong wind over the weekend brought them down from the trees early.

Monday, November 3, 2014

dashboard flowers

Not sure if this counts as a windowsill, but I think it should. I was pulling out of my driveway with these flowers in my cup holder when I realized this was probably the only arrangement I'd do today. So I propped them on the dashboard (which is the car's windowsill, right?) and photographed them. The flowers are tiny marigolds (which I'd picked before last night's hard frost) and the foliage is scented geranium leaves. All are in a jam jar, which I delivered to friend.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

cyrysanthemum with amsonia foliage

I was picking a bucket of chrysanthemums this morning, when this little stem broke off in my hand. Carried it back to the house in a buttonhole until I could drop it into a bottle with a snippet of Amsonia foliage. The best thing about this is that the fragrance of chrysanthemums still lingers on my fingers! Also like seeing the colorful dogwood leaves and blooming camellias out the window.

Friday, October 31, 2014

scented geranium foliage and marigold flowers in little yellow watering can

My daughter, Kate, has started offering this little yellow Haws watering can on her website (thearrangersmarket.com), and she gave me one just to see how I liked it. I liked it a lot. In fact, I've already used it several times as a watering can, but what I was really looking forward to was using it as a vase. I knew it would make a good one (broad base, narrow neck), and today it was perfect for holding scented geranium leaves and tiny marigold flowers.This was ridiculously easy to create, because I'd harvested the leaves and flowers earlier in the day in anticipation of frost tonight.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Oak leaves

I'm in a Norfolk, Va. hotel this morning. Found these oak leaves and acorn caps on a sidewalk yesterday. The tree out the window is a redbud. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

sugar maples at the "wow" stage

I woke up this morning to the glow of sugar maple yellow, because leaves on the trees across the street have reached their peak. I was glad to have an incentive to trot right outside and harvest some for my windowsill arrangement.

Monday, October 27, 2014

let the rooting begin

Actually, I should have started trying to root some of my favorite things from the garden (scented geraniums, this upright basil, etc.) much earlier, but recent really warm weather makes me think I'm not late! Anyway, here are some shoots from a wonderful, upright basil that should root in water, but whether or not I succeed in carrying the plants (assuming the shoots root) all the way through the winter remains to be seen. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

marigolds in candy corn vase

Linda Armstrong gave me this wonderful vase. There's a small, water-holding chamber in each section, and into each chamber I've dropped tiny marigolds, a little scented geranium foliage, and some yellowing peony foliage. So Halloween-esque!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

one nasturtium stem--again

On Oct. 12 I posted an tiny arrangement featuring this nasturtium stem. Look what has happened to it since! It has unfurled in a really beautiful way! Decided to display it today with a different tile behind it and a little moss tucked into the neck of the bottle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

oak-leaved hydrangea leaves

There are so many gorgeous leaves on the oak-leaved hydrangeas right now that I found it impossible to choose one to display, Instead, I gathered up a handful of them of various sizes and colors, and here they are! I've got a chop stick wedged in front of them to keep them upright.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

goldenrod in spool of twine

There's a spice bottle nested in this spool of twine, and it's holding water for the goldenrod and scented geranium leaves, This goldenrod is not as vibrant as it once was, but for having been used in half a dozen arrangements over the past couple of weeks, it's looking pretty good!

And here's an arrangement Linda Armstrong did in her very gorgeous window.

And here's Lyde Longaker's window. Ooh, la, la!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Last rose of summer?

This may not be the very last rose of the season, but it sure is a pretty one. I nested a floral tube in the spool of rafia to provide the rose some water.